January 28, 2013

GDSs ramp up drive to dominate hotel distribution

Enhanced visuals, the addition of browser-based content and improved access to independent hotels are among changes aimed at persuading leisure and corporate agents to concentrate their hotel bookings in the GDS channel.

Travelport’s goal is to boost its hotel business enough to generate revenue on “the same scale” as its air revenue, chief executive Gordon Wilson told Travel Market Report in 2012. The potential is huge, he suggested, noting that “the global spend on hotels is bigger than air.”

Travelport’s competitors also are keen on the lodging sector, and all the GDS companies indicated they are making significant investments in enhancing their hotel product.

“Hospitality is a focus for all GDSs. While the airlines’ business continues to be consolidated, hotels offer an ever-broader range of product,” said Michael O’Connell, senior vice president, distribution and demand sales, at Pegasus Solutions Inc., which provides comprehensive IT and distribution solutions to hotels.

While travel agents’ use of GDSs is declining overall (see sidebar), GDS hotel bookings grew from 49 million in 2010 to 52 million in 2011, and they were expected to reach more than 55 million in 2012, according to John Hach, senior vice president of global travel management at TravelClick, which provides hotels with booking, marketing and business intelligence tools.

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